A remarkable though virtually uncommented-upon piece of political propaganda was issued in late July this year. Universities for Europe and Universities UK, who represent 133 higher education institutions, came out with clear, unequivocal backing for the UK to vote to stay in the European Union (EU).
How could it be that this sector could have decided to ignore political neutrality? And indeed perhaps we need to ask ourselves what are universities for?
From the very beginning, the objective of university has been to be a place where young people can expand their minds, be exposed to a whole range of arguments and so surely it must be fundamental that students should be exposed to both sides of every argument?
Only in a tyrannical country would the state seek to exert control over the type of content that universities speak about. Indeed Stalin was very good at it. What I have discovered is that deep political prejudice lies at the heart of our universities and that the EU has effectively tried to buy the sector.
Over the last few years, UKIP’s Young Independence wing has been attempting to set up groups within our universities. Just as all the other political parties and campaign groups do. The level of obstructionism we faced is truly extraordinary.
Ahead of the European Elections, Derby University banned UKIP from speaking to students because of our “extremist views”, because students had a right to feel safe whilst studying on campus, which they bizarrely said we somehow endangered. You’d think listening to this I was leading an organisation akin to Mosley’s Blackshirts.
Douglas Carswell could hardly be considered a political extremist, but UKIP were banned from the University of East Anglia after protests, with the event eventually having to be rescheduled.
It gets worse. At Sussex, the student union council voted not to allow our Brighton Pavilion parliamentary candidate to attend a pre-election event.
Whilst the universities appear to have done little to defend the rights of free speech and open democracy, the role of the National Union of Students is pretty disgraceful too.
A strong Vice-Chancellor would want speakers from all persuasions as part of an all-round education for students. Yet the message that the Vice-Chancellors send out is that there is only one respectable, pro-EU argument for universities to follow.
Perhaps the reason that our universities have fallen in love with the European Union is that their research departments are now funded from EU sources.
How brilliant of Brussels to effectively buy further education in Britain.
Only the other day we heard of the latest one, with Oxford University being handed a colossal £200m from the European Union’s European Investment Bank. Research funding from Brussels is estimated to amount to around an astonishing £1 billion per year. These are not insignificant figures.
To listen to the Vice-Chancellors you would think that before the EU existed there was no academic research in British universities. They have become the captives of a political project and sadly have surrendered intellectual independence. Frankly, they have sold out.
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It was in the run up to the Lisbon Treaty referendum that I was challenged from the audience by an academic who insisted that the European Union was a force purely for good. I challenged her as to whether she was a Monnet Professor, paid for by the EU, and of course she admitted that she was. This is yet another example of the EU pouring money into British education in order to win favour.
I understand there are more than 200 Monnet Professors in British universities where academics are paid for by the European Union to promote history and economics from a pro-EU perspective. Yes, they are even rewriting our history books. The World Wars, of which I’m a keen student, is now referred to as the European Civil War.
Further, deep research is needed into these Monnet professorships and it interesting to note that when academic spokesmen appear on the BBC, very often they are Monnet professors, without being referred to as such.
I’m only at the start of my campaign to understand the depths to which our universities have sunk and their attempt to influence young minds in our country.
But I do feel a campaign coming on.
A campaign, once all of the facts have been assembled, where we can urge Britain’s students to rebel against this indoctrination. To help me in this I want anybody who has been subjected to pro-EU, anti-UKIP urging throughout their university or school life to contact me with their stories: email@example.com.
It is time we took on this indoctrination once and for all in the run up to the EU referendum.
Nigel Farage MEP is the leader of the UK Independence Party